The Pope's Revolution BBC Panorama
I watched BBC's Panorama programme last night entitled "The Pope's Revolution", initially, with great trepidation that it was going to be another misinformed critique of the Church and teaching which modernity seems determined to dismiss, irrespective that it constitutes a perspective focused purely on truth and imbued with the wisdom of generations.
I actually found it rather good. It certainly gave a lot of interesting perspective regarding Pope Francis' background in Buenos Aires, with footage of his sister, who commented on how caring Pope Francis had always been toward the family, as well as some interesting insights from Rabbi Skorka. The information grounded the Pope in some socio-historic context for me. The dirty war in Argentina, the poverty of the
Barrios and Communes of the city where Jorge Mario Bergoglio is far more than a man in a white suit on the TV, he is someone who has affected the lives of almost everyone Jane Corbin spoke to.
All this made me feel much more confident about this papacy. Skorka was very interesting, brimming with obvious affection and admiration for his friend, but also happy to explain that the Pope is a born leader; someone who understands what it takes to communicate difficult truths to people, someone wrapped up and bound with pray and love of God, and someone who is completely without hypocrisy, fully living the mission he preaches.
The programme followed the narrative that the Curia needs cleaning out. I don't know how much truth there is in this, but I do know that money and power corrupt. The programme suggested that Cardinal and officials fought over the best apartments in the Vatican. Pope Francis removed himself and even poured scorn on these goings on by moving to Santa Marta. I liked that and it resonated with Skorka's comments about the man who knew how to handle this sort of infighting: step 1. Lead by example. Step 2. Remove yourself from the melee.
The programme mentioned the homosexual mafia (which certainly exists), and the problems of The Institute for the Works of Religion, and Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, who reportedly had secured himself some rather impressive accommodation within the Vatican as a result of various "favours" he'd performed. The idea that this sort of thing goes on in the Vatican is utterly scandalous to me, and any Catholic I assume, but of course individual failings and sins do in no way detract from the truth held and taught by the Church itself. The Devil works most effectively from within, and it is hardly surprising we find individuals pursuing worldly agendas within the security of the Vatican. Pope Francis has acted decisively on this issue and has even indicated the The Institute for the Works of Religion might have to be closed down altogether.
Of course, reference was also made to the dreadful abuse "crisis", which all Catholics are ashamed of. It makes sense to me that the Church has been held up to account on this, despite the unfairness of the scrutiny, because the Church, though a life raft for sinners, should be striving to avoid anything that hurts individuals, worst of all children, as Jesus Himself said:
Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. ~ Luke 17:1-2I think that's fair criticism, and I want all those things exposed and sorted out.
It also was very positive about Pope Francis as a man and about his aims, especially his focus on the poor. Although it failed to recognise this has always been a key mission of the Church, and seemed to have a strange perspective on Pope Benedict, who achieved so much.
It portrayed Pope Francis' focus as something down to earth, gritty, and realistic. But also genial, with a twinkle in his eye. Someone who is almost as shocked at where he has ended up as we, the faithful were when his name was announced on the night of his election.
There is no doubt that the Francis effect is something real, let's all hope he pulls off his revolution!